Redgauntlet, by Walter Scott

Chapter 8

Latimer’s Journal, in Continuation

I spent more than an hour, after returning to the apartment which I may call my prison, in reducing to writing the singular circumstances which I had just witnessed. Methought I could now form some guess at the character of Mr. Herries, upon whose name and situation the late scene had thrown considerable light — one of those fanatical Jacobites, doubtless, whose arms, not twenty years since, had shaken the British throne, and some of whom, though their party daily diminished in numbers, energy, and power, retained still an inclination to renew the attempt they had found so desperate. He was indeed perfectly different from the sort of zealous Jacobites whom it had been my luck hitherto to meet with. Old ladies of family over their hyson, and grey-haired lairds over their punch, I had often heard utter a little harmless treason; while the former remembered having led down a dance with the Chevalier, and the latter recounted the feats they had performed at Preston, Clifton, and Falkirk.

The disaffection of such persons was too unimportant to excite the attention of government. I had heard, however, that there still existed partisans of the Stuart family of a more daring and dangerous description; men who, furnished with gold from Rome, moved, secretly and in disguise, through the various classes of society, and endeavoured to keep alive the expiring zeal of their party.

I had no difficulty in assigning an important post among this class of persons, whose agency and exertion are only doubted by those who look on the surface of things, to this Mr. Herries, whose mental energies, as well as his personal strength and activity, seemed to qualify him well to act so dangerous a part; and I knew that all along the Western Border, both in England and Scotland, there are so many nonjurors, that such a person may reside there with absolute safety, unless it becomes, in a very especial degree, the object of the government to secure his person; and which purpose, even then, might be disappointed by early intelligence, or, as in the case of Mr. Foxley, by the unwillingness of provincial magistrates to interfere in what is now considered an invidious pursuit of the unfortunate.

There have, however, been rumours lately, as if the present state of the nation or at least of some discontented provinces, agitated by a variety of causes but particularly by the unpopularity of the present administration, may seem to this species of agitators a favourable period for recommencing their intrigues; while, on the other hand, government may not, at such a crisis, be inclined to look upon them with the contempt which a few years ago would have been their most appropriate punishment.

That men should be found rash enough to throw away their services and lives in a desperate cause, is nothing new in history, which abounds with instances of similar devotion — that Mr. Herries is such an enthusiast is no less evident; but all this explains not his conduct towards me. Had he sought to make me a proselyte to his ruined cause, violence and compulsion were arguments very unlikely to prevail with any generous spirit. But even if such were his object, of what use to him could be the acquisition of a single reluctant partisan, who could bring only his own person to support any quarrel which he might adopt? He had claimed over me the rights of a guardian; he had more than hinted that I was in a state of mind which could not dispense with the authority of such a person. Was this man, so sternly desperate in his purpose — he who seemed willing to take on his own shoulders the entire support of a cause which had been ruinous to thousands — was he the person that had the power of deciding on my fate? Was it from him those dangers flowed, to secure me against which I had been educated under such circumstances of secrecy and precaution?

And if this was so, of what nature was the claim which he asserted? — Was it that of propinquity? And did I share the blood, perhaps the features, of this singular being? — Strange as it may seem, a thrill of awe, which shot across my mind at that instant, was not unmingled with a wild and mysterious feeling of wonder, almost amounting to pleasure. I remembered the reflection of my own face in the mirror at one striking moment during the singular interview of the day, and I hastened to the outward apartment to consult a glass which hung there, whether it were possible for my countenance to be again contorted into the peculiar frown which so much resembled the terrific look of Herries. But I folded my brows in vain into a thousand complicated wrinkles, and I was obliged to conclude, either that the supposed mark on my brow was altogether imaginary, or that it could not be called forth by voluntary effort; or, in fine, what seemed most likely, that it was such a resemblance as the imagination traces in the embers of a wood fire, or among the varied veins of marble, distinct at one time, and obscure or invisible at another, according as the combination of lines strikes the eye or impresses the fancy.

While I was moulding my visage like a mad player, the door suddenly opened, and the girl of the house entered. Angry and ashamed at being detected in my singular occupation, I turned round sharply, and, I suppose, chance produced the change on my features which I had been in vain labouring to call forth.

The girl started back, with her ‘Don’t ya look so now — don’t ye, for love’s sake — you be as like the ould squoire as — But here a comes,’ she said, huddling away out of the room; ‘and if you want a third, there is none but ould Harry, as I know of, that can match ye for a brent broo!’

As the girl muttered this exclamation, and hastened out of the room, Herries entered. He stopped on observing that I had looked again to the mirror, anxious to trace the look by which the wench had undoubtedly been terrified. He seemed to guess what was passing in my mind, for, as I turned towards him, he observed, ‘Doubt not that it is stamped on your forehead — the fatal mark of our race; though it is not now so apparent as it will become when age and sorrow, and the traces of stormy passions and of bitter penitence, shall have drawn their furrows on your brow.’

‘Mysterious man,’ I replied, ‘I know not of what you speak; your language is as dark as your purposes!’

‘Sit down, then,’ he said, ‘and listen; thus far, at least, must the veil of which you complain be raised. When withdrawn, it will only display guilt and sorrow — guilt followed by strange penalty, and sorrow which Providence has entailed upon the posterity of the mourners.’

He paused a moment, and commenced his narrative, which he told with the air of one, who, remote as the events were which he recited, took still the deepest interest in them. The tone of his voice, which I have already described as rich and powerful, aided by its inflections the effects of his story, which I will endeavour to write down, as nearly as possible, in the very words which he used.

‘It was not of late years that the English learned that their best chance of conquering their independent neighbours must be by introducing amongst them division and civil war. You need not be reminded of the state of thraldom to which Scotland was reduced by the unhappy wars betwixt the domestic factions of Bruce and Baliol, nor how, after Scotland had been emancipated from a foreign yoke by the conduct and valour of the immortal Bruce, the whole fruits of the triumphs of Bannockburn were lost in the dreadful defeats of Dupplin and Halidon; and Edward Baliol, the minion and feudatory of his namesake of England, seemed, for a brief season, in safe and uncontested possession of the throne so lately occupied by the greatest general and wisest prince in Europe. But the experience of Bruce had not died with him. There were many who had shared his martial labours, and all remembered the successful efforts by which, under circumstances as disadvantageous as those of his son, he had achieved the liberation of Scotland.

‘The usurper, Edward Baliol, was feasting with a few of his favourite retainers in the castle of Annan, when he was suddenly surprised by a chosen band of insurgent patriots. Their chiefs were, Douglas, Randolph, the young Earl of Moray, and Sir Simon Fraser; and their success was so complete, that Baliol was obliged to fly for his life scarcely clothed, and on a horse which there was no leisure to saddle. It was of importance to seize his person, if possible, and his flight was closely pursued by a valiant knight of Norman descent, whose family had been long settled in the marches of Dumfriesshire. Their Norman appellation was Fitz-Aldin, but this knight, from the great slaughter which he had made of the Southron, and the reluctance which he had shown to admit them to quarter during the former war of that bloody period, had acquired the name of Redgauntlet, which he transmitted to his posterity’—

‘Redgauntlet!’ I involuntarily repeated.

‘Yes, Redgauntlet,’ said my alleged guardian, looking at me keenly; ‘does that name recall any associations to your mind?’

‘No,’ I replied, ‘except that I had lately heard it given to the hero of a supernatural legend.’

‘There are many such current concerning the family,’ he answered; and then proceeded in his narrative.

‘Alberick Redgauntlet, the first of his house so termed, was, as may be supposed from his name, of a stern and implacable disposition, which had been rendered more so by family discord. An only son, now a youth of eighteen, shared so much the haughty spirit of his father, that he became impatient of domestic control, resisted paternal authority, and finally fled from his father’s house, renounced his political opinions, and awakened his mortal displeasure by joining the adherents of Baliol. It was said that his father cursed, in his wrath, his degenerate offspring, and swore that if they met he should perish by his hand. Meantime, circumstances seemed to promise atonement for this great deprivation. The lady of Alberick Redgauntlet was again, after many years, in a situation which afforded her husband the hope of a more dutiful heir.

‘But the delicacy and deep interest of his wife’s condition did not prevent Alberick from engaging in the undertaking of Douglas and Moray. He had been the most forward in the attack of the castle, and was now foremost in the pursuit of Baliol, eagerly engaged in dispersing or cutting down the few daring followers who endeavoured to protect the usurper in his flight.

‘As these were successively routed or slain, the formidable Redgauntlet, the mortal enemy of the House of Baliol, was within two lances’ length of the fugitive Edward Baliol, in a narrow pass, when a, youth, one of the last who attended the usurper in his flight, threw himself between them, received the shock of the pursuer, and was unhorsed and overthrown. The helmet rolled from his head, and the beams of the sun, then rising over the Solway, showed Redgauntlet the features of his disobedient son, in the livery, and wearing the cognizance, of the usurper.

‘Redgauntlet beheld his son lying before his horse’s feet; but he also saw Baliol, the usurper of the Scottish crown, still, as it seemed, within his grasp, and separated from him only by the prostrate body of his overthrown adherent. Without pausing to inquire whether young Edward was wounded, he dashed his spurs into his horse, meaning to leap over him, but was unhappily frustrated in his purpose. The steed made indeed a bound forward, but was unable to clear the body of the youth, and with its hind foot struck him in the forehead, as he was in the act of rising. The blow was mortal. It is needless to add, that the pursuit was checked, and Baliol escaped.

‘Redgauntlet, ferocious as he is described, was yet overwhelmed with the thoughts of the crime he had committed. When he returned to his castle, it was to encounter new domestic sorrows. His wife had been prematurely seized with the pangs of labour upon hearing the dreadful catastrophe which had taken place. The birth of an infant boy cost her her life. Redgauntlet sat by her corpse for more than twenty-four hours without changing either feature or posture, so far as his terrified domestics could observe. The Abbot of Dundrennan preached consolation to him in vain. Douglas, who came to visit in his affliction a patriot of such distinguished zeal, was more successful in rousing his attention. He caused the trumpets to sound an English point of war in the courtyard, and Redgauntlet at once sprang to his arms, and seemed restored to the recollection which had been lost in the extent of his misery.

‘From that moment, whatever he might feel inwardly, he gave way to no outward emotion. Douglas caused his infant to be brought; but even the iron-hearted soldiers were struck with horror to observe that, by the mysterious law of nature, the cause of his mother’s death, and the evidence of his father’s guilt, was stamped on the innocent face of the babe, whose brow was distinctly marked by the miniature resemblance of a horseshoe. Redgauntlet himself pointed it out to Douglas, saying, with a ghastly smile, “It should have been bloody.”

‘Moved, as he was, to compassion for his brother-inarms, and steeled against all softer feelings by the habits of civil war, Douglas shuddered at this sight, and displayed a desire to leave the house which was doomed to be the scene of such horrors. As his parting advice, he exhorted Alberick Redgauntlet to make a pilgrimage to Saint Ninian’s of Whiteherne, then esteemed a shrine of great sanctity; and departed with a precipitation which might have aggravated, had that been possible, the forlorn state of his unhappy friend. But that seems to have been incapable of admitting any addition. Sir Alberick caused the bodies of his slaughtered son and the mother to be laid side by side in the ancient chapel of his house, after he had used the skill of a celebrated surgeon of that time to embalm them; and it was said that for many weeks he spent; some hours nightly in the vault where they reposed.

‘At length he undertook the proposed pilgrimage to Whiteherne, where he confessed himself for the first time since his misfortune, and was shrived by an aged monk, who afterwards died in the odour of sanctity. It is said that it was then foretold to the Redgauntlet, that on account of his unshaken patriotism his family should continue to be powerful amid the changes of future times; but that, in detestation of his unrelenting cruelty to his own issue, Heaven had decreed that the valour of his race should always be fruitless, and that the cause which they espoused should never prosper.

‘Submitting to such penance as was there imposed, Sir Alberick went, it is thought, on a pilgrimage either to Rome, or to the Holy Sepulchre itself. He was universally considered as dead; and it was not till thirteen years afterwards, that in the great battle of Durham, fought between David Bruce and Queen Philippa of England, a knight, bearing a horseshoe for his crest, appeared in the van of the Scottish army, distinguishing himself by his reckless and desperate valour; who being at length overpowered and slain, was finally discovered to be the brave and unhappy Sir Alberick Redgauntlet.’

‘And has the fatal sign,’ said I, when Herries had ended his narrative, ‘descended on all the posterity of this unhappy house?’

‘It has been so handed down from antiquity, and is still believed,’ said Herries. ‘But perhaps there is, in the popular evidence, something of that fancy which creates what it sees. Certainly, as other families have peculiarities by which they are distinguished, this of Redgauntlet is marked in most individuals by a singular indenture of the forehead, supposed to be derived from the son of Alberick, their ancestor, and brother to the unfortunate Edward, who had perished in so piteous a manner. It is certain there seems to have been a fate upon the House of Redgauntlet, which has been on the losing side in almost all the civil broils which have divided the kingdom of Scotland from David Bruce’s days, till the late valiant and unsuccessful attempt of the Chevalier Charles Edward.’

He concluded with a deep sigh, as one whom the subject had involved in a train of painful reflections.

‘And am I then,’ I exclaimed, ‘descended from this unhappy race? Do you belong to it? And if so, why do I sustain restraint and hard usage at the hands of a relation?’

‘Inquire no further for the present,’ he said. ‘The line of conduct which I am pursuing towards you is dictated, not by choice but by necessity. You were withdrawn from the bosom of your family and the care of your legal guardian, by the timidity and ignorance of a doting mother, who was incapable of estimating the arguments or feelings of those who prefer honour and principle to fortune, and even to life. The young hawk, accustomed only to the fostering care of its dam, must be tamed by darkness and sleeplessness, ere it is trusted on the wing for the purposes of the falconer.’

I was appalled at this declaration, which seemed to threaten a long continuance, and a dangerous termination, of my captivity. I deemed it best, however, to show some spirit, and at the same time to mingle a tone of conciliation. ‘Mr. Herries,’ I said ‘(if I call you rightly by that name), let us speak upon this matter without the tone of mystery and fear in which you seem inclined to envelop it. I have been long, alas! deprived of the care of that affectionate mother to whom you allude — long under the charge of strangers — and compelled to form my own resolutions upon the reasoning of my own mind. Misfortune — early deprivation — has given me the privilege of acting for myself; and constraint shall not deprive me of an Englishman’s best privilege.’

‘The true cant of the day,’ said Herries, in a tone of scorn. ‘The privilege of free action belongs to no mortal — we are tied down by the fetters of duty — our mortal path is limited by the regulations of honour — our most indifferent actions are but meshes of the web of destiny by which we are all surrounded.’

He paced the room rapidly, and proceeded in a tone of enthusiasm which, joined to some other parts of his conduct, seems to intimate an over-excited imagination, were it not contradicted by the general tenor of his speech and conduct.

‘Nothing,’ he said, in an earnest yet melancholy voice —‘nothing is the work of chance — nothing is the consequence of free-will — the liberty of which the Englishman boasts gives as little real freedom to its owner as the despotism, of an Eastern sultan permits to his slave. The usurper, William of Nassau, went forth to hunt, and thought, doubtless, that it was by an act of his own royal pleasure that the horse of his murdered victim was prepared for his kingly sport. But Heaven had other views; and before the sun was high, a stumble of that very animal over an obstacle so inconsiderable as a mole-hillock, cost the haughty rider his life and his usurped crown, Do you think an inclination of the rein could have avoided that trifling impediment? I tell you, it crossed his way as inevitably as all the long chain of Caucasus could have done. Yes, young man, in doing and suffering, we play but the part allotted by Destiny, the manager of this strange drama, stand bound to act no more than is prescribed, to say no more than is set down for us; and yet we mouth about free-will and freedom of thought and action, as if Richard must not die, or Richmond conquer, exactly where the Author has decreed it shall be so!’

He continued to pace the room after this speech, with folded arms and downcast looks; and the sound of his steps and tone of his voice brought to my remembrance, that I had heard this singular person, when I met him on a former occasion, uttering such soliloquies in his solitary chamber. I observed that, like other Jacobites, in his inveteracy against the memory of King William, he had adopted the party opinion, that the monarch, on the day he had his fatal accident, rode upon a horse once the property of the unfortunate Sir John Friend, executed for high treason in 1698.

It was not my business to aggravate, but, if possible, rather to soothe him in whose power I was so singularly placed. When I conceived that the keenness of his feelings had in some degree subsided, I answered him as follows:—‘I will not — indeed I feel myself incompetent to argue a question of such metaphysical subtlety, as that which involves the limits betwixt free-will and predestination. Let us hope we may live honestly and die hopefully, without being obliged to form a decided opinion upon a point so far beyond our comprehension.’

‘Wisely resolved,’ he interrupted, with a sneer —‘there came a note from some Geneva, sermon.’

‘But,’ I proceeded, ‘I call your attention to the fact that I, as well as you, am acted upon by impulses, the result either of my own free will, or the consequences of the part which is assigned to me by destiny. These may be — nay, at present they are — in direct contradiction to those by which you are actuated; and how shall we decide which shall have precedence? — YOU perhaps feel yourself destined to act as my jailer. I feel myself, on the contrary, destined to attempt and effect my escape. One of us must be wrong, but who can say which errs till the event has decided betwixt us?’

‘I shall feel myself destined to have recourse to severe modes of restraint,’ said he, in the same tone of half jest, half earnest which I had used.

‘In that case,’ I answered, ‘it will be my destiny to attempt everything for my freedom.’

‘And it may be mine, young man,’ he replied, in a deep and stern tone, ‘to take care that you should rather die than attain your purpose.’

This was speaking out indeed, and I did not allow him to go unanswered. ‘You threaten me in vain,’ said I; ‘the laws of my country will protect me; or whom they cannot protect, they will avenge.’

I spoke this firmly, and he seemed for a moment silenced; and the scorn with which he at last answered me, had something of affectation in it.

‘The laws!’ he said; ‘and what, stripling, do you know of the laws of your country? Could you learn jurisprudence under a base-born blotter of parchment, such as Saunders Fairford; or from the empty pedantic coxcomb, his son, who now, forsooth, writer himself advocate? When Scotland was herself, and had her own king and legislature, such plebeian cubs, instead of being called to the bar of her supreme courts, would scarce have been admitted to the honour of bearing a sheepskin process-bag.’

Alan, I could not bear this, but answered indignantly, that he knew not the worth and honour from which he was detracting.

‘I know as much of these Fairfords as I do of you,’ he replied.

‘As much,’ said I, ‘and as little; for you can neither estimate their real worth nor mine. I know you saw them when last in Edinburgh.’

‘Ha!’ he exclaimed, and turned on me an inquisitive look.

‘It is true,’ said I; ‘you cannot deny it; and having thus shown you that I know something of your motions, let me warn you I have modes of communication with which you are not acquainted. Oblige me not to use them to your prejudice.’

‘Prejudice me!’ he replied. ‘Young man, I smile at, and forgive your folly. Nay, I will tell you that of which you are not aware, namely, that it was from letters received from these Fairfords that I first suspected, what the result of my visit to them confirmed, that you were the person whom I had sought for years.’

‘If you learned this,’ said I, ‘from the papers which were about my person on the night when I was under the necessity of becoming your guest at Brokenburn, I do not envy your indifference to the means of acquiring information. It was dishonourable to’—

‘Peace, young man,’ said Herries, more calmly than I might have expected; ‘the word dishonour must not be mentioned as in conjunction with my name. Your pocket-book was in the pocket of your coat, and did not escape the curiosity of another, though it would have been sacred from mine, My servant, Cristal Nixon, brought me the intelligence after you were gone. I was displeased with the manner in which he had acquired his information; but it was not the less my duty to ascertain its truth, and for that purpose I went to Edinburgh. I was in hopes to persuade Mr. Fairford to have entered into my views; but I found him too much prejudiced to permit me to trust him. He is a wretched, yet a timid slave of the present government, under which our unhappy country is dishonourably enthralled; and it would have been altogether unfit and unsafe to have entrusted him with the secret either of the right which I possess to direct your actions, or of the manner in which I purpose to exercise it.’

I was determined to take advantage of his communicative humour, and obtain, if possible, more light upon his purpose. He seemed most accessible to being piqued on the point of honour, and I resolved to avail myself, but with caution, of his sensibility upon that topic. ‘You say,’ I replied, ‘that you are not friendly to indirect practices, and disapprove of the means by which your domestic obtained information of my name and quality — Is it honourable to avail yourself of that knowledge which is dishonourably obtained?’

‘It is boldly asked,’ he replied; ‘but, within certain necessary limits, I dislike not boldness of expostulation. You have, in this short conference, displayed more character and energy than I was prepared to expect. You will, I trust, resemble a forest plant, which has indeed, by some accident, been brought up in the greenhouse, and thus rendered delicate and effeminate, but which regains its native firmness and tenacity when exposed for a season to the winter air. I will answer your question plainly. In business, as in war, spies and informers are necessary evils, which all good men detest; but which yet all prudent men must use, unless they mean to fight and act blindfold. But nothing can justify the use of falsehood and treachery in our own person.’

‘You said to the elder Mr. Fairford,’ continued I, with the same boldness, which I began to find was my best game, ‘that I was the son of Ralph Latimer of Langcote Hall? How do you reconcile this with your late assertion that my name is not Latimer?’

He coloured as he replied, ‘The doting old fool lied; or perhaps mistook my meaning. I said, that gentleman might be your father. To say truth, I wished you to visit England, your native country; because, when you might do so, my rights over you would revive.’

This speech fully led me to understand a caution which had been often impressed upon me, that, if I regarded my safety, I should not cross the southern Border; and I cursed my own folly, which kept me fluttering like a moth around the candle, until I was betrayed into the calamity with which I had dallied. ‘What are those rights,’ I said, ‘which you claim over me? To what end do you propose to turn them?’

‘To a weighty one, you may be certain,’ answered Mr. Herries; ‘but I do not, at present, mean to communicate to you either its nature or extent. You may judge of its importance, when, in order entirely to possess myself of your person, I condescended to mix myself with the fellows who destroyed the fishing station of yon wretched Quaker. That I held him in contempt, and was displeased at the greedy devices with which he ruined a manly sport, is true enough; but, unless as it favoured my designs on you, he might have, for me, maintained his stake-nets till Solway should cease to ebb and flow.’

‘Alas!’ I said, ‘it doubles my regret to have been the unwilling cause of misfortune to an honest and friendly man.’

‘Do not grieve for that,’ said Herries; ‘honest Joshua is one of those who, by dint of long prayers, can possess themselves of widow’s houses — he will quickly repair his losses. When he sustains any mishap, he and the other canters set it down as a debt against Heaven, and, by way of set-off, practise rogueries without compunction, till the they make the balance even, or incline it to the winning side. Enough of this for the present. — I must immediately shift my quarters; for, although I do not fear the over-zeal of Mr. Justice Foxley or his clerk will lead them to any extreme measure, yet that mad scoundrel’s unhappy recognition of me may make it more serious for them to connive at me, and I must not put their patience to an over severe trial. You must prepare to attend me, either as a captive or a companion; if as the latter, you must give your parole of honour to attempt no escape. Should you be so ill advised as to break your word once pledged, be assured that I will blow your brains out without a moment’s scruple.’

‘I am ignorant of your plans and purposes,’ I replied, ‘and cannot but hold them dangerous. I do not mean to aggravate my present situation by any unavailing resistance to the superior force which detains me; but I will not renounce the right of asserting my natural freedom should it favourable opportunity occur. I will, therefore, rather be your prisoner than your confederate.’

‘That is spoken fairly,’ he said; ‘and yet not without the canny caution of one brought up in the Gude Town of Edinburgh. On my part, I will impose no unnecessary hardship upon you; but, on the contrary, your journey shall be made as easy as is consistent with your being kept safely. Do you feel strong enough to ride on horseback as yet, or would you prefer a carriage? The former mode of travelling is best adapted to the country through which we are to travel, but you are at liberty to choose between them.’

I said, ‘I felt my strength gradually returning, and that I should much prefer travelling on horseback. A carriage,’ I added, ‘is so close’—

‘And so easily guarded,’ replied Herries, with a look as if he would have penetrated my very thoughts — ‘that, doubtless, you think horseback better calculated for an escape.’

‘My thoughts are my own,’ I answered; ‘and though you keep my person prisoner, these are beyond your control.’

‘Oh, I can read the book,’ he said, ‘without opening the leaves. But I would recommend to you to make no rash attempt, and it will be my care to see that you have no power to make any that is likely to be effectual. Linen, and all other necessaries for one in your circumstances, are amply provided, Cristal Nixon will act as your valet — I should rather, perhaps, say, your FEMME DE CHAMBRE. Your travelling dress you may perhaps consider as singular; but it is such as the circumstances require; and, if you object to use the articles prepared for your use, your mode of journeying will be as personally unpleasant as that which conducted you hither. — Adieu — We now know each other better than we did — it will not be my fault if the consequences of further intimacy be not a more favourable mutual opinion.’

He then left me, with a civil good night, to my own reflections, and only turned back to say that we should proceed on our journey at daybreak next morning, at furthest; perhaps earlier, he said; but complimented me by supposing that, as I was a sportsman, I must always be ready for a sudden start.

We are then at issue, this singular man and myself. His personal views are to a certain point explained. He has chosen an antiquated and desperate line of politics, and he claims, from some pretended tie of guardianship or relationship, which he does not deign to explain but which he seems to have been able to pass current on a silly country Justice and his knavish clerk, a right to direct and to control my motions. The danger which awaited me in England, and which I might have escaped had I remained in Scotland, was doubtless occasioned by the authority of this man. But what my poor mother might fear for me as a child — what my English friend, Samuel Griffiths, endeavoured to guard against during my youth and nonage, is now, it seems, come upon me; and, under a legal pretext, I am detained in what must be a most illegal manner, by a person, foe, whose own political immunities have been forfeited by his conduct. It matters not — my mind is made up neither persuasion nor threats shall force me into the desperate designs which this man meditates. Whether I am of the trifling consequence which my life hitherto seems to intimate, or whether I have (as would appear from my adversary’s conduct) such importance, by birth or fortune, as may make me a desirable acquisition to a political faction, my resolution is taken in either case. Those who read this journal, if it shall be perused by impartial eyes, shall judge of me truly; and if they consider me as a fool in encountering danger unnecessarily, they shall have no reason to believe me a coward or a turncoat, when I find myself engaged in it. I have been bred in sentiments of attachment to the family on the throne and in these sentiments I will live and die. I have, indeed, some idea that Mr. Herries has already discovered that I am made of different and more unmalleable metal than he had at first believed. There were letters from my dear Alan Fairford, giving a ludicrous account of my instability of temper, in the same pocket-book, which, according to the admission of my pretended guardian, fell under the investigation of his domestic during the night I passed at Brokenburn, where, as I now recollect, my wet clothes, with the contents of my pockets, were, with the thoughtlessness of a young traveller, committed too rashly to the care of a strange servant. And my kind friend and hospitable landlord, Mr. Alexander Fairford, may also, and with justice, have spoken of my levities to this man. But he shall find he has made a false estimate upon these plausible grounds, since —

I must break off for the present.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/redgauntlet/chapter8.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29